Probate is a legal process that ensures that your assets are properly handled after your passing. It can be complicated, expensive, and time-consuming for your beneficiaries if you don’t have plans in place to handle it. However, not all estates have to go through probate. If you are dealing with the death of a loved one and probate seems overwhelming, you do not have to go through it alone.
If you’re going through probate for a deceased loved one’s estate, make sure that you have a reliable attorney ready to guide you through the process. Our listed Orange County law firms can help with the administration and/or litigation of contested Trusts & Wills.
Reach out to a local Orange County probate attorney today and tell them you found them on OrangeCountyLawyers.com.
During probate, the court handles numerous issues with an estate. They find the decedent’s will, declare its validity, and figure out which heirs and beneficiaries will receive which assets. The court also verifies the value of different assets and uses available assets to pay off debts that the decedent left behind. After all of this is completed, assets are finally distributed to the beneficiaries.
This may sound fairly straightforward, but consider how diverse the average person’s estate is. It may include real estate, financial accounts without named beneficiaries, stocks and bonds, antiques, valuable collections, furniture, vehicles, and intellectual property. Even just cataloging and assessing the value of these items could take months. The larger and more complex an estate is, the longer probate will take.
On average, the California probate process generally takes between nine and 18 months, per the Judicial Council of California. Creditors have four months to request compensation from the estate for debts they are owed, so probate cannot be any shorter than that.
Probate attorneys in California are typically paid on a fee-for-service basis, which means that they charge clients for the specific services they provide. The fee is usually based on a percentage of the value of the estate being probated, with the exact percentage varying depending on the attorney, complexity of the case and the value of assets at hand.
Some probate attorneys in California also charge hourly rates for their services. It’s important to note that the probate attorney’s fees are typically paid out of the estate, so they will be deducted from the assets of the deceased person before the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries.
California law explicitly states that the administrator of an estate can be compensated. This process can take a substantial amount of time and work on the administrator’s part, so they receive 4% of the first $100,000, 3% of the next $100,000, 2% of the next $800,000, and 1% of the next $9 million of the proceeds of an estate.
The good news is that not all estates have to go through probate. Many assets are excluded from the probate process. This includes financial accounts that have named beneficiaries, assets held in joint tenancy, real estate with transfer-on-death deeds, and property held in living trusts.
Furthermore, estates with a value below $166,250 may be able to bypass the formal probate process in California. The non-formal probate case is significantly shorter and often less stressful for beneficiaries.
If a family member disputes a will or trust, (typically brothers, sisters and step-parents), it can lead to a legal process called probate or trust litigation. During this process, the court will review the will or trust to determine its validity and enforce the terms as written, or if deemed invalid, distribute the assets according to state laws of intestacy.
The family member disputing the will or trust may contest the document on grounds such as lack of mental capacity, undue influence, or fraud. If the dispute cannot be resolved through negotiation or mediation, it may go to trial.
Probate administration or litigation is an emotionally and mentally demanding process, especially for those who are grieving the death of a loved one. Unless you have experience going through probate, you’ll face a steep learning curve. For many families, it’s simply too great of a responsibility and too much additional stress in a time that is already painful and tiring. An attorney can take some of that burden and ensure that a loved one’s estate is handled properly.
Working with a local attorney can help you get through the probate process as quickly and easily as possible. We have used each attorney’s website and public information to verify that they have an actual physical presence in Orange County, making it easy for you to find a lawyer in your community. Reach out to an Orange County probate lawyer now and tell them you found them on OrangeCountyLawyers.com.